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Temporal range: Late Triassic
Rutiodon carolinensis.JPG
Skeleton of Rutiodon carolinensis (AMNH 1) in the American Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Phytosauria
Family: Phytosauridae
Genus: Rutiodon
Emmons, 1856
  • R. carolinensis (Emmons, 1856) (type)
  • R. manhattanensis (Huene, 1913)
  • Palaeonornis
    Emmons, 1857

Rutiodon ("Wrinkle tooth") is an extinct genus of archosaur belonging to the family Phytosauridae. It lived during the Late Triassic period, and was about 10 to 25 feet (3 to 8 meters) in length.[1] Rutiodon is known from the eastern United States (North Carolina, New York, New Jersey).[2]


Fossil of R. carolinensis
Restoration of R. carolinensis

Like other phytosaurs, Rutiodon strongly resembled a crocodile, but its nostrils were positioned far back on the head, close to the eyes, instead of at the tip of the snout. It had enlarged front teeth, and a relatively narrow jaw, somewhat resembling that of a modern gharial. This suggests that this carnivore probably caught fish and it may also have snatched land animals from the waterside.[1] Also, like modern crocodiles, its back, flanks, and tail were covered with bony armored plates.[3]


The holotype of R. manhattanensis on display in the American Museum of Natural History
Skeleton of R. carolinensis viewed from the front

The type species of Rutiodon is R. carolinensis. A second species, R. manhattanensis, was discovered in 1910 near Fort Lee, New Jersey, and named in reference to its close proximity to Manhattan.


Below is a cladogram from Stocker (2012):[4]


"Paleorhinus" scurriensis

Paleorhinus bransoni

"Paleorhinus" sawini


Brachysuchus megalodon


Rutiodon carolinensis

"Machaeroprosopus" zunii

Protome batalaria


"Phytosaurus" doughtyi

TMM 31173-120

Leptosuchus crosbiensis

Leptosuchus studeri

Smilosuchus lithodendrorum

Smilosuchus adamanensis

Smilosuchus gregorii

Pravusuchus hortus


Pseudopalatus mccauleyi

Mystriosuchus westphali

Pseudopalatus pristinus

In popular culture[edit]

Rutiodon is one of the best-known phytosaurs and appeared in the 2001 Discovery Channel documentary When Dinosaurs Roamed America, shown trying to attack a Coelophysis near the water's edge and missing. Rutiodon was also featured in episode 6 of Animal Armageddon.


  1. ^ a b Gaines, Richard M. (2001). Coelophysis. ABDO Publishing Company. p. 21. ISBN 1-57765-488-9. 
  2. ^ Michelle R. Stocker (2010). "A new taxon of phytosaur (Archosauria: Pseudosuchia) from the Late Triassic (Norian) Sonsela Member (Chinle Formation) in Arizona, and a critical reevaluation of Leptosuchus Case, 1922". Palaeontology 53 (5): 997–1022. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2010.00983.x. 
  3. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 95. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  4. ^ Stocker, M. R. (2012). "A new phytosaur (Archosauriformes, Phytosauria) from the Lot's Wife beds (Sonsela Member) within the Chinle Formation (Upper Triassic) of Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32 (3): 573–586. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.649815.  edit